Last Updated on 2 February 2021 by Ray Plumlee
Kettlebells are cast iron or cast steel weights, resembling cannon balls with circular handles attached. These weights were first developed in the 18th century in Russia, where farmers used them to weigh crops. It was quickly noticed that the farmers had gained strength, and muscles, through their use, and they were co-opted for competitive purposes. Kettlebells are beneficial for cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training. Because of their ease of use, portability, and size they are ideal for individual, as well as group, training.
Kettleballs are an even more modern twist on these implements. They are less intimidating to athletes, as well as floors, as traditional kettlebells, but their circular handles make them just as easy and convenient to use. Unlike their predecessors, however, a set of kettleballs is of a uniform size, with their varying weights differentiated by different colors. There are easier on floor surfaces than their counterparts, and have a flat bottom which provides more stability, whether on the floor or in a storage rack.
By their very nature, typical kettleball exercises build strength and endurance, especially in the shoulders, lower back and legs. They also improve gripping strength. Basic movements in a typical kettleball exercise routine, movements such as the swing, snatch, or clean and jerks, involve the entire body at once, and in a way which closely mimics manual labor, such as shoveling or farm work. Most of the common kettleball movements involve using the device in a way which is unique, and cannot be duplicated by the use of other exercise equipment. Because of the high number of repetitions involved, it is best to build your regimen slowly, allowing for a buildup in muscle endurance. Many kettleball exercises can be harmful to those with problems in the shoulders or back, or who have a weak core, so proceed with caution.
The following ten step beginner routine, performed twice a week, combines a high intensity cardio workout with the muscle building benefits of kettleball training. Each exercise should be repeated 12 to 15 times.
Kettleball swing. Place your feet shoulder width apart. Holding the kettleball in both hands, bend your hips and swing the ball between your legs.
Squat. Hold the kettleball at eye level, so that you can look through the handle. Keeping your back straight, squat as low as you can. Pause, the straighten up and return the ball to eye level.
Shelf. Position your feet wider than your shoulders, with the kettleball on the floor to your right. Keeping your back at its normal arch, pivot to the right to pick up the ball. Pivot to the left, raising the ball to chest level as you go, as if you need to place it on a shelf. Repeat with ball on left.
Power to the people. Hold the ball over your head in your right hand. Slowly lower your arm while bringing up your right knee to almost touch it. Return to your original position and repeat. Then change sides and repeat.
Row. Assume an athletic stance and with a ball in each hand, row the bells to your sides, rotating the palms forward.
Curl. Hold a kettleball in each hand, curl the weights up, then lower. Chest press. Lie on your back on a bench, with a ball in each hand at chest level. Press weights over chest, then back.
Fly. Hold kettleballs in each hand, over chest, with palms facing inward. Lower arms to form a “T” shape. Bring the weights back up while squeezing pecs in a hugging motion.
Sit-up. Perform sit-up while holding ball, by its base, on your chest. Contract abs to sit up, but don’t lock elbows. Lower and repeat.
Russian twist. Hold ball on your chest as it sit-up. Raise your torso to a 45 degree angle. Extend your arms in front of you, and twist to one side, then twist to the other side.
The 7 Most Important Kettlebell Exercises.